Monday, January 26, 2009

Music Monday/Lyric Lundi

When I was a kid, living in an area full of “good ol’ boys” and “country gals,” the last thing on earth I was about to do was listen to country music. Country music was for gun-toting, tobacco-chewing rednecks, and I, of course, was a fine, cultured young lady (snapping my bubblegum in my Daisy Duke cut-offs) who made fun of those T.V. ads for the best of “George and Tammy! Tammy and George!” (you have to read that with a hick accent to get the full effect). I was so disdainful of country, because, well, you know, Styx and Foreigner were producing such superior music.

Boy, am I glad I grew up. Unfortunately, it took me a while to do so, and I didn’t come to appreciate country music until I was about 30. What I was too stupid to know when I was in my teens and twenties was that so much of what I enjoyed listening to (The Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, even R.E.M.) was influenced by country. I also didn’t know that country music itself could be traced back to all that Celtic folk music whose sound I’ve always loved. Yes, it’s Americanized and has all other kinds of influences (today, a lot of it is influenced by rock), but all that “pickin’” and “fiddlin’” hillbilly music started with so many of Scotch-Irish descent living in the Appalachian hills.

One of the things I love most about country music is its story-telling quality. It’s amazing what people can manage to put into five or so short verses to draw a complete picture of “man/woman done wrong,” “a forever love,” or “the misunderstood loner.” But what I also love is the way some songs paint a complete picture merely through allusion, which is what this, one of my favorite country songs does.

Listen to it. You don’t need the descriptions of that first night the “good-hearted woman” stayed up till 4:00 a.m., tears on her cheeks, wondering where he was. You don’t need the verse that portrays her dressed to the nines, waiting for him to come pick her up and take her to the church supper he promised he wouldn’t miss this time, how she doesn’t say a word when he comes home long past supper-time, after watching football all afternoon with the boys, and tells her he forgot. You don’t need to be in the car with the kids and the suitcases, headed to her mother’s, promising herself that this time she’s not coming back, because three kids are enough, and she’s tired of taking care of this fourth one. You can picture him knocking on her mother’s door, flowers in one hand, hat held to his chest with the other, telling her how much he loves her, dancing that favorite silly jig for her, the one he knows will make her laugh. Next thing you know, she, the suitcases, and the kids are following behind his truck, headed back home. It’s just all right there, isn’t it? (Oh, and the music is a perfect match to the lyrics, too.)

A Good-Hearted Woman

by Waylon Jennings

A long time forgotten are dreams that just fell by the way
The good life he promised ain't what she's living today
But she never complains of the bad times or bad things he's done, Lord
She just talks about the good times they've had and all the good times to

She's a good-hearted woman in love with a good-timin' man
She loves him in spite of his ways that she don't understand
Through teardrops and laughter, they'll pass through this world hand-in-hand,
A good-hearted woman loving her good timing man

He likes the bright lights, the night life, and good-timin' friends
When the party's all over she'll welcome him back home again
Lord knows she don't understand him, but she does the best that she can
'Cause she's a good-hearted woman; she loves her good timin' man



Heather said...

Good post. I keep forgetting about this. Wedding on my mind - not mine - my brother's! LOL BTW I got some mail yesterday!!! WOO!

Anonymous said...

My favorite line of this post?
I was so disdainful of country, because, well, you know, Styx and Foreigner were producing such superior music.
I was the exact same way! I am so glad I have since come around and to appreciate many of the country artists out there - lots of country music songs are like mini-novels...

Emily Barton said...

Heather, perhaps you'll come up with an appropriate wedding song for some Monday? Meanwhile, so happy to hear you got my letter. Hope you could decipher it!

Court, one of the good things about growing older, no?